Because of recent encounters with some folks, I have to step back from my study of “Dust and Stars” to address an issue we take far too lightly. You see, we need to discuss the sin in our lives. Far too many us times prefer to ignore those sins, but maybe we should take time to remember Psalm 36:
There is an inspired truth about the wicked person
who has rebellion in the depths of his heart:
He is not terrified of Elohim.
He flatters himself and does not hate or even recognize his guilt. (Psalm 36:1-3)
Now notice that this is talking about “the wicked person,” or someone who does not (as yet) know the Lord. They are alien to His ways, His commands. They hear all of the Christians thumping on their Bibles and yelling at them, but all they do is “plug their ears” and ignore their warnings. Even Paul picked this up in his letter to the church in Rome:
“ . . . they have not learned to live in peace.
They are not terrified of God.” (Romans 3:18)
When the psalmist saw the sins of the wicked, his heart was telling him how it could be. His concern was that the wicked are not, “terrified of Elohim,” and in those words revealed the psychology of sin. When men no longer fear God, they feel free to transgress His laws without hesitation. When you remove the fear of God, the fear of consequences no longer exists.
There was a time when men of faith were said to “walk in the fear of God” and to “serve the Lord with fear.” It didn’t matter how intimate their communion with God was or how bold their prayers were, at the base of their religious life they recognized that their God was both awesome, and dreadful. This idea of God transcendent runs through the whole Bible and gives color and tone to the character of those who follow Him. Some like to minimize this fear of God by believing that the word actually means to “reverence” and “respect” Him. This fear of God was more than a natural apprehension of danger; it was a non-rational dread, an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of El Elyon God the Almighty.
The word translated “fear” in many versions of the Bible comes from the Hebrew word yirah (יִרְאָה), which means many things in the Scriptures. Yes, sometimes it doses refer to “awe” or “reverence.” In this sense, yirah includes the idea of wonder, amazement, mystery, astonishment, gratitude, admiration, and yes, even worship (like the feeling you get when gazing from the edge of the Grand Canyon). So I admit that the “fear of the LORD” does include an overwhelming sense of the glory, worth, and beauty of the One True God.
However, yirah refers to the fear we feel when we anticipate some danger or pain. Wherever Yahweh appeared to men in Scriptures, the results were the same—an overwhelming sense of terror and dismay, a wrenching sensation of sinfulness and guilt. When God spoke, Abram threw himself on the ground to listen. When Moses saw the Lord in the burning bush, he hid his face in fear to look on God. Isaiah’s vision of God caused him to cry, “Woe is me!” and confess, “I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.”
Daniel’s encounter with God was probably the most dreadful and wonderful of them all. The prophet lifted up his eyes and saw One whose “His body was like beryl. His face looked like lightning. His eyes were like flaming torches. His arms and legs looked like polished bronze. When he spoke, his voice sounded like the roar of a crowd.” Then explained, “I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision,” he afterward wrote, “The men with me didn’t see the vision. Yet, they started to tremble violently, and they quickly hid themselves. So I was left alone to see this grand vision. I had no strength left in me. My face turned deathly pale, and I was helpless. I heard the man speak, and as I listened to his words, I fainted facedown on the ground.”
What I am trying to say is that when we no longer have a fear of our God, we will violate His laws without hesitation and without guilt or shame. The author of the letter to the Hebrew church reminded them that when we consider Yahweh as the Judge of the Universe, “Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing” (Hebrews 10:31).
Father, please forgive our attitudes toward You. Help us gain a proper fear — no, an overwhelming sense of terror and dismay of You.
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.